Populate or Perish?

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Many global population projections point to the current world population of roughly seven billion people peaking at around nine to ten billion in 2050, after which numbers will slowly decline. In the midst of this growth, Australia’s current population of 23 million is predicted to rise to around 30 or 35 million in the same period. This low growth outlook has been called ‘big Australia.’ We are kidding ourselves, aren’t we?  read more »

How “Public” Is the Public Sector?

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You may have heard the old joke about the convenience store with a neon sign blaring, “Open 24 Hours”. A customer stops in one morning for coffee, and confronts the store’s owner, “Your sign says ‘Open 24 Hours’, but I stopped by last night at midnight for a pack of smokes and you were closed.” The owner replies, “Oh, we’re open 24 hours…just not in a row.”  read more »

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CNU20: New Urbanism's Young Adult Angst

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Possibly the most earnest folks in the real estate development industry assembled for the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Congress of the New Urbanism in West Palm Beach, Florida this month. Among the excellent accomplishments of CNU20 attendees: a credible car/pedestrian strategy, some fine looking new communities, and perhaps best of all, a body of hard-won knowledge about town-making for citizen education.  read more »

CNU20: Shootout at the New Urbanism Congress

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I knew there was the possibility that this month's Congress of New Urbanism — CNU20 — in West Palm Beach would be an exercise in brainwashing. While I was excited to be meeting some of the thinkers at the forefront of my profession, I certainly was aware that the founders of the movement were opinionated and outspoken.  read more »

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Facebook’s IPO Testifies to Silicon Valley’s Power but Does Little for Other Californians

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The  $104 billion Facebook IPO testifies to the still considerable innovative power of Silicon Valley, but the hoopla over the new wave of billionaires won’t change the basic reality of the state’s secular economic decline.  read more »

The Best Cities For Tech Jobs

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With Facebook poised to go public, the attention of the tech world, and Wall Street, is firmly focused on Silicon Valley. Without question, the west side of San Francisco Bay is by far the most prodigious creator of hot companies and has the highest proportion of tech jobs of any region in the country — more than four times the national average.

Yet Silicon Valley is far from leading the way in expanding science and technology-related employment in the United States.  read more »

Toward More Competitive Canadian Metropolitan Areas

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The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCN) and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) have expressed serious concern about generally longer commute trip times making Canadian metropolitan areas less competitive. Each has called for additional funding for transit at the federal level to help reduce commute times and improve metropolitan competitiveness.  read more »

Smart-Growth and Smarter Technology

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If you’re an enviro-regulator with a mission, preventing “sprawl” has been ideologically trendy in recent decades. You have successfully predicated your argument on past-history soils-management technological inadequacy, it must be enormously threatening to look back and realize that technology has been gaining on you and is now capable (in engineering terms) and affordable (in end-user cost terms) of enabling just the sorts of rural development the majority of the market-for-housing wants, but you’ve been trying so hard to prevent: Currier-and-Ives-tradition large-lot houses in the countryside.  read more »

London’s Social Cleansing

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Unscrupulous landlords are forcing poorer tenants out of their London homes, freeing them up to rent out to visitors to the Olympics this summer, according to the housing charity Shelter. At the same time, the government’s cap on rent subsidies (Housing Benefits) for those out of work or on low incomes threaten to force less well-off tenants out of the capital. Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales says that they will have to move people as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent if they are to meet their obligations to house the homeless.  read more »

Homebuilding Recovery: A Zoning & Planning Overhaul

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Part III of the Recovery Blueprint for homebuilding. Defining good zoning and good planning, and a look at how social engineering plays in.

What exactly is ‘planning’?

It can be government creation of an Interstate Highway, or a city council vote on a new park. For the purposes of this blueprint, planning refers to the design of a new land development or a design for redevelopment. In both cases, the land plan is the developer's business plan. The design will either be positive or negative for the sustainability — long-term health — of the city.  read more »